Looks like Olivo rejoining Mariners today

No announcement yet from the Mariners, but Tacoma Rainiers announcer Mike Curto reports that Miguel Olivo wasn’t with the Triple-A team in Iowa for their game this morning. That comes as no big surprise, given Olivo was only expected to stay with Tacoma for a few games and Seattle backup John Jaso has been hampered the last two days by a sore shoulder.

Jaso got hit hard by a foul ball in the ninth inning of Monday’s game and was still iffy to play on Wednesday. Jesus Montero caught both Tuesday and Wednesday and could go again tonight in the series opener against the Angels, but no team wants to be in a situation with just one healthy catcher.

So I expect Olivo will be activated off the disabled list tonight by the Mariners. He went 2-for-5 with a home run on Wednesday for the Rainiers and his sprained groin muscle appears totally healthy.

The bigger intrigue now figures to come over how the Mariners open a 25-man roster spot back up for Olivo. Earlier in the season, Alex Liddi always looked like the borderline roster guy who could be optioned back to Tacoma when needed, but the big Italian clearly is playing himself into a bigger role.

Liddi’s grand slam in Wednesday’s 5-3 win over the Rangers certainly didn’t hurt his standing and manager Eric Wedge has begun moving him around to create more options — and roster value — as he played his second game in left field on Wednesday and also can play first and third.

If Liddi is safe, that means outfielder Casper Wells or utility man Chone Figgins are the logical candidates to be moved. Figgins carries complications, of course, because he’s still under contract for $17 million for this year and next and that remains a big hurdle.

Wells still has options, so he could be sent to Tacoma and given increased playing time in order to keep him fresh if needed. I still see Wells as a logical replacement for Ichiro in right field when that time comes, but that time certainly isn’t here yet.

With Liddi getting time in left field as a right-handed hitting option, Wells’ biggest value right now is as a defensive replacement in an outfield where Mike Carp and now Liddi certainly could use some late-inning relief in close ball games. Figgins can also play outfield and be used as a pinch runner.

So we’ll see where the Mariners go. Maybe there’s some surprise option, but I see those as the two most-likely moves. And my gut tells me it’ll be Wells getting sent down for now, since he can always be recalled at a moment’s notice as needed and it wouldn’t hurt him to get more at-bats if he’s not going to get regular playing time with the Mariners right now.

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